Who Is At Risk For Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome & Is There A Blood Test For It?

PAES occurs most often in young and male athletes who are aged 30 and under and who play professional sports like football, rugby, or soccer.1,2

There is no specific blood test to diagnose the syndrome but there are other tests to rule out other conditions and to make the accurate diagnosis.3,4

The popliteal artery is one of the major arteries of the leg providing blood supply to the structures of the knee and the lower extremity. When there is an abnormality in their functionality that typically occurs when the calf muscle presses the main artery, the normal blood supply is limited resulting in pain and cramps in the lower back.

As a secondary effect, progression or recurrent attacks on the long term can instigate physical damage on the arterial walls and cause progressive narrowing of the muscles.

Who Is At Risk For Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome?

Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome is a rare and uncommon condition that occurs most often in young and male athletes who are aged 30 and under and who play professional sports like football, rugby, or soccer.

However, the latest studies demonstrate that the syndrome can affect even young female athletes. When the muscles beside the popliteal artery enlarge, it causes compression and increases the risk of disease. Hence the reason the syndrome is referred to as over-use injury.1

There are very few chances of inheritance and only 3% of cases develop PAES. Furthermore, most people with PAES never develop symptoms. The following things can heighten the chances of developing popliteal artery entrapment syndrome

Age Factor- Medical studies show that young age is often associated with an increased risk factor of the condition. It is mostly noticed in young adults who are in their late teens and age less than 30. PAES is rare in older adults.

Gender- Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome is higher in men when compared to women. In females, there are no substantial discrepancies between brachial and popliteal artery however differences are found in men.

Stressful Sports Activity- This is a very common syndrome in athletes and individuals participating in sports and recreational activities. The main objective of these athletes is to build muscle fast with strenuous exercise activity which eventually increases the risk of the condition.2

Is There Any Blood Test For Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome?

The best diagnoses of PAES can be done by any vascular specialist. The doctor will perform the physical exam that includes checking your blood pressure levels and pulses of the foot and popliteal artery. The test produces correct results only when the pulse is checked while you are at rest. However, there can be a discrepancy in the results when the individuals exercise, flex, or extend their foot.

There is no specific blood test to diagnose the syndrome but there are other tests to rule out other conditions and to make an accurate diagnosis. This includes

  • Ankle-brachial pressures with exercise
  • Duplex Ultrasound
  • Computed tomographic angiography (CTA)
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)

These are clinical tests that are performed to confirm the diagnosis of PAES and to disclose the abnormal anatomic relationships between the popliteal artery and the other muscles.3,4

References:

  1. “Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome (PAES).” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17375-popliteal-artery-entrapment-syndrome-paes.
  2. Morris, Shaun. “Conditions We Treat: Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome (PAES): Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute.” Conditions We Treat: Popliteal Artery
  3. Entrapment Syndrome (PAES) | Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute, 22 Mar. 2015, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/popliteal-artery-entrapment-syndrome-paes
  4. Gourgiotis, Stavros, et al. “Diagnosis and Surgical Approach of Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome: a Retrospective Study.” Vascular Health and Risk Management, Dove Medical Press, 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2464757/.
  5. Hameed, Maira, et al. “Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome: an Approach to Diagnosis and Management.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine, 1 Aug. 2018, bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/16/1073.

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